Showing posts from September, 2016

F-35s can't seem to stop catching fire...

I just started vacation...  Then THIS happens.
At least there will be plenty to discuss while I'm away!  
Meanwhile, at the Joint Program Office...


The time has come for me to take a brief break from my adult life and responsibilities.

For the next couple of weeks I will be on vacation.  I will be "unplugging" from the internet and will be unable to post or edit comments.  So...  Have a field day guys.

In the meantime, I will be stress testing my liver and catching some sun.

Modest Proposal: The RCAF should adopt a light attack aircraft.

Sometimes, once in a blue moon or so, news coming out of The Pentagon actually makes sense.

The folks at Defense News recently reported that the USAF is in the preliminary stages of evaluating a light attack aircraft to supplement its A-10 fleet.  These new aircraft would then partially replace the aging Warthog over low-threat environments.  Aircraft like the F-15E and F-35 would take over duties in higher-threat situations.

The reasoning is simple.  Aircraft like the F-35 and F-15E are complete overkill when it comes to dealing with violent extremists that use pickup trucks armed with machine guns ("technicals").  While there is no debating the tactical need, one has to question the financial argument of using a multi-million dollar aircraft that costs $30k per flight hour dropping a bomb that costs more than its target.

As much praise as the A-10 receives for its mastery in the CAS role, even it has been complete overkill for most of its missions in the "War on Ter…

Guess who's grounded again? The answer will (not) surprise you!

Well...  This is embarrassing.

Mere weeks after declaring the F-35A's IOC (initial operating capability) the USAF has grounded fifteen of them (two belonging to the RNoAF).

The grounding was ordered when depot maintenance discovered coolant lines with decomposing insulation.

"[I]t was possible for this crumbling insulation to become lodged in the siphon lines connecting wing and fuselage fuel tanks...  This could result in excessive negative pressures in the fuel tanks during flying operations or excessive positive pressures during air or ground refueling. In either case, the under- or over-pressure could cause structural damage to the fuel tanks."-US Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek

Unlike the engine fire that grounded the entire JSF fleet two years ago, this issue seems to be more of a quality control issue rather than a design flaw.  The problem seems to be constrained to a single subcontractor.  The effected parts are unique to the F-35A CTOL version.  
While only…


We finally know what all the contenders to replace the venerable T-38 Talon will look like.

After teasing us for months, Boeing finally unveiled its entry into the T-X competition with much pomp and fanfare.  This follows a less ceremonial unveiling of Northrop-Grumman's clean sheet design.  The two other contenders, proposed by Lockheed and Raytheon, are modifications to existing designs.

The goal of the T-X program is to provide a "lead in" jet trainer for high performance aircraft found in the USAF.  This includes (but is not limited to) aircraft like the F-22, F-35, and B-21.  As military aircraft become more advanced, there has emerged a need for a trainer that mirrors these advances.  The venerable T-38 is no longer a suitable aircraft for this, being a 50-year-old design.

The requirements for the T-X dictate an aerial refueling receptacle and give preference for high maneuverability.   The ability to make a sustained 6.5g turn is a requirement with 7.5g being th…

Gripen: Sensible Swede?

The Saab Gripen does not even seem possible in this day and age.  A modern jet fighter built by a small nation with less than a third of Canada's population.  Not only that, this small fighter has stolen sales away from the like of Dassault and Boeing.

The Gripen (Swedish for "griffon") seems to be content with other fighters taking the high end of the market.  Instead, Saab is concentrating on marketing the JAS 39 to nations with more modest defense budgets that looking for a cost-effective, yet capable fighter.  (Sound familiar?)

History During the Cold War, Sweden practiced neutrality.  Nevertheless, its close proximity to the then-Soviet Union made for an uncomfortable position.  If the Soviet Union was to invade with its full military might, there would be little a small nation like Sweden could do about it.  In order to make a foreign invasion as unattractive as possible, Swedish defence officials adopted a strategy of guerrilla war-type tactics.  As such, much o…

Typhoon: Deadly storm or just blowing wind?

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a bit of a dichotomy.  Depending on the source, the Typhoon is considered either a deadly air-superiority fighter or an unreliable money pit.  As always, the answer is probably somewhere in-between.

History The Eurofighter Typhoon is the collaborative effort of four European nations; Germany Italy, Spain, and the U.K.  This joint effort was formed as a way to (hopefully) breath life into Europe's aerospace industry.  At one point, France was also involved, but left due to differing requirements.  
The design goal of what was to become the Typhoon was a challenging one:  Develop an air-superiority fighter that combined the combat effectiveness of the F-15 Eagle, but in a size closer to that of a F/A-18 Hornet.  The end result was an aircraft resembling that of British Aerospace's EAP demonstrator.
The Typhoon's development was a troubled one, however.  Multiple partners with multiple priorities resulted in developmental delays due to disagreement…

Super Hornet: What's the buzz?

When issues with Canada's stalled F-35 started to arise, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was seen by many as the only realistic alternative.  For whatever reason, the "Eurocanards" (i.e. Typhoon, Rafale, and Gripen) were dismissed.  It seemed inconceivable that the RCAF would procure anything other than an American fighter.

Being a "Super" version of what Canada already has, the F/A-18E/F would seem to be a sensible choice.  Since it used the legacy Hornet as a starting point for its design, converting Canada's fighter fleet to the Super Hornet would likely be a snap.  Like the F-35, it will continue to see use with Canada's largest military ally.  This means there are no issues with interoperability.

Out of all the multi-role fighters vying to replace the CF-18, the Super Hornet is certainly the lowest risk choice...  But is it the best?

History The Super Hornet can trace its design lineage all the way back to the YF-17 Cobra...  Possibly even further.


Rafale: Jacques-of-all-trades?

Billed as an "omnirole" fighter, the Dassault Rafale was specifically developed to act as France's sole strike fighter platform.  As such, it had to perform any and all roles needed for a fighter.  Equally adept at air superiority, strike missions, and even carrier operations, the Rafale is truly a "Jacques-of-all-trades".

At first glance, the Rafale may seem to an impeccable choice to replace the CF-18.  It is truly a capable and flexible platform used by a close NATO ally.  Dassault has also been aggressively marketing the Rafale, offering technology transfer, intellectual property rights, and the option to manufacturer parts or even final assembly.

History In 1979, Dassault briefly partnered up with what was later to become the Eurofighter consortium.  By 1985, France had left the program due to "creative differences".  While the other nations were focused on a ground-based air-superiority interceptor platform, France had need for a multi-role st…

F-35: The Future or a Flop?

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II may be the most controversial aircraft in history.

Some say that it will be far superior to anything else in the sky.  Others call it a "white elephant" that cannot even match the aircraft it is meant to replace.  What we do know for sure is that F-35 development is several years behind schedule.  We also know that the JSF is nowhere near being a "low-cost" option.

While it was once considered the de facto replacement for the RCAF's CF-18 fleet, last years Federal election shook things up when Justin Trudeau announced:
We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber. We will immediately launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft. The primary mission of our fighter aircraft should remain the defence of North America, not stealth first-strike capability. We will reduce the procurement budget for replacing the CF-18s, and will instead purchase one of the many, lower-priced options that bett…